In a very short span of time, Xiaomi has captured the imagination of average Indian buyers by striking the right chord between powerful hardware and ‘disruptive’ pricing. However, 2015, was a dull year for Xiaomi. This numb period allowed its compatriot’s up their game in India to eat in to Xiaomi’s area of dominance. Brands like Lenovo and LeEco availed the opportunity and launched several compelling budget phones, which in turn, allowed them to dig their claws deeps in Indian market.
Now, Xiaomi is once again trying to turn the table in its favor with the launch of Redmi Note 3 which is company’s first major product launch since April 2015.
Redmi series has always been a strong pillar in Xiaomi success story and the new Redmi Note, is available in 2 variants, has once again come to Xiaomi’s rescue. So is it the best smartphone available in India under 12000 INR or some other phone gets to wear that crown? Let’s find out in out detailed review.
Note: We have the 32GB varaint with us for the review. For more details of 16GB storage variant head on to our Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 FAQ.
Key Specifications and Features Redmi Note 3
|Model||Xiaomi Redmi Note 3|
|Display||5.5-Inch, IPS Display, 1080p Full HD resolution|
|Processor||Hexa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 chipset, Adreno 510 GPU|
|RAM||2GB / 3GB|
|Internal Storage||16GB / 32GB|
|Software||MIUI 7 based on Android Lollipop|
|Primary Camera||16MP, dual tone LED flash, 1080p Videos|
|Dimensions & Weight||150 x 76 x 8.7 mm and 164 g|
|Others||4G Dual SIM LTE|
|Price||13,999/ 10,999 INR|
Items in the box
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Handset, a 2Amp. Wall charger, Micro USB cable, SIM card ejector tool and Quick start guide
Looks And Design
Design and looks are personal preferences, but nevertheless, it is one of the most important aspect which appeals and intrigue most of us and influences our buying decision. Xiaomi has thoughtfully designed Redmi Note 3, as is evident from design choices like symmetry between rear camera and fingerprint sensor sand-witching an LED flash, New engraved ‘MI’ logo, matte finish on the sandblasted aluminum back and softly curved edges which lends it a comfortable grip.
Even with all these irrefutable details, there are let down in its design philosophy. The front design feels clumsy and essentially more or less the same as previous generation model. The addition of chrome plated plastic lining on the front (between the glass and side-frame) feels stale and doesn’t do any good to the metal used on the back. A decision to add speaker at the back instead on at the bottom is another unapologetic mistake of Xiaomi designers.
Sanity was restored with the placement of volume rocker and power button which are placed perfectly and within thumbs reach. There is a hybrid SIM slot on the left, while a 3.5mm audio input jack, secondary mic for noise cancellation and an infrared blaster is present on the top. The micro USB and mic are placed on left side of the bottom. Overall, it feels chunky and heavy (164grams), which was also the primary problem with its predecessor.
Must read: New Features Of MIUI 8 All In One Place
There is a lot to like about Redmi Note 3 design, but having used Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G as my primary phone for a considerable time, the Redmi Note 3 doesn’t feel fresh enough to me in practice.
The Redmi Note 3 features a 5.5-inch large IPS LCD display running at 1080 x 1920 pixels resolution, which converts to 403 pixels per-inch. Keeping its budget in mind, phone display works well for Xiaomi. The IPS display on Note 3 has great viewing angle and is sharp enough to compete with any other phone in this price range. Colors on the display are lean towards the colder side. we noticed a blue tint on white backgrounds, but that isn’t unusual for phones in this budget.
Despite bearing a reflective touch glass, it is bright enough to read messages even outdoors. For all those who love to read before going to bed, it has a built-in reading mode which basically slashes out blue light to minimize eye strain (it works). You can activate it in selective apps or across the entire UI.
The Redmi Note 3 comes out of the box running on usual MIUI 7 skin which has Android Lollipop as its soul, hidden beneath several layers of modifications.
At this point of time we are all well acquainted with Xiaomi’s MIUI. It comes with a rich set of customization options, animations are smooth, there are themes to download, aforementioned reading mode – and there is no noticeable lag (on the 32GB variant that is).
For all those who are used to app drawers it will take some getting used to but with time, it will slowly grow on you. In Redmi Note 3, Xiaomi introduced Wallpaper Carousel which automatically refreshes the lock-screen for you. Xiaomi is not known for speedy Android version updates, but they compensate that by introducing new features in their MIUI interface. Also, you can expect MIUI 8 update at some point of time.
Xiaomi became the first brand to book Snapdragon 650 for its device. The Indian Redmi Note 3 variant houses a hexa-core Snapdragon 650 chipset with two Cortex A72 cores are clocked at 1.8GHz and remaining four Cortex A53s ticking at 1.4GHz. In terms of day to day usage, phone rocked as per our expectation thanks to Snapdragon 650 which is coupled with 3Gigs of RAM and Adreno 510 GPU. There wasn’t any visible lag in opening and closing of apps, transitions were smooth, animations were swift, and everything appears to be seamless. The OS and chipset complemented each other very well.
We further tried to put Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 under strain with our gaming tests. We spent some time playing Asphalt 8, Overkill 3, Modern Combat, Hitman: Sniper as well as Clash of Clans, and it turned out game play is fluid on Redmi Note 3. Adreno 510 GPU didn’t show any signs of slowing down when playing heavy games.
Apart from this, Call quality on Redmi Note 3 is at par with most flagship devices. Signals on our device were more or less stable. Rear mounted fingerprint sensor works like a charm. It is easy to setup and works 9 out 10 times. It can also be used as a shutter button for camera. The Audio output of rear speaker is far from being impressive. It lacks loudness and punch that many other rivals offer in this price range.
It is backed by a 4050mAh non-removable battery which manages to deliver better screen on time as compared to the competition. The battery of the phone is impressive and could easily stretch for a day and more. If you turn on the battery saver mode, it could easily extend the battery life further.
Like most specs, Xiaomi has also upgraded camera of the Redmi Series phone. It features a 16-megapxiel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. The primary camera comes with phase detect autofocus and LED flash. The outcome of well-spaced cameras is a tad underwhelming. Images captured from Redmi Note 3 camera comes with a fair share of digital noise. Dynamic range of the camera is a tad inconsistent, and most of the time you end up with overexpose highlights.
In HDR mode, it takes a couple of seconds longer than usual to focus. It brings out shadows well, but noise creeps in. In dull and gloomy conditions, image quality further takes a beating. Overall, despite the addition of more pixels, the camera continues to have its shortcoming in the low light department.
Despite having average camera Redmi Note 3 makes a lot of sense at 11,999 INR. It is truly value for money with good performance, efficient fingerprint scanner and long lasting battery. Things like average camera performance, lack of gorilla glass on the display and missing fast charging support play spoilsport.
From the perspective of a long time Xiaomi fan, I would have liked a better display – at least at par with the one used on Mi 4i. However, when pitched against the competition, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 stands tall.